Friday 13 December 2013

Mrs. Uma Shankar, Director IMTC, speaks on parenting

Al Qamar Academy was very honoured to have Mrs. Uma Shankar, Director of the Indian Montessori Council & Centre of Montessori Training, and and speak to the mothers and more specifically, the grandmothers on 14th December 2013. 
“Do you not wait for 9 months for an unborn baby to completely grow before it is delivered as a full grown healthy baby?  Do you not wait for a year or so before you expect your child to walk and talk? Then, why is that you are not ready to wait when it comes to the child’s ability to read and write. Why is it that you are not ready to wait for your child to learn language and maths?”
These were some of the questions posed by Ms Uma Shankar when they raised voiced their perception about the slow process of learning in a Montessori school.
“We live life like a roller coaster ride, impatient and in a hurry to teach the child everything at once and do not trust the child’s ability to learn by herself,” is what she answered, when a parent questioned about the lack of visible sign or evidence of learning.
Starting off a very interactive and animated discussion, Ms Uma asked the grandmothers to voice the concern and problems they face in the upbringing of their grandchildren. She then went on to explain how the Montessori philosophy is the best way for the intellectual and social development of the child.
“Human qualities cannot be taught, they can only be shown and the child will learn and follow. I give you a guarantee that the Montessori child in 13 years will excel at what he is interested in ” she said while explaining how the Montessori teachers gently facilitate the children to learn both academic and social skills. She further elaborated on how the introductory EPL (exercises in practical life) prepares the ground for the child to learn writing and calculations at a later stage by giving children time to settle down when they first come into school, teaching them control of their hand movement, strengthening their muscles and instilling an interest in the materials available in the environment.   Her comment that EPL was a very vital part of the Montessori methodology and not some daily chores which the school was using the children to do, drew a laugh from the mothers. Mrs. Shankar elaborated on each different part of the Montessori environment. She emphasized that children learn best when they have freedom of choice, are interested and engaged.  
She acknowledged that parenting in this technology driven world is very challenging and suggested that the mothers ‘flow’ with the child giving them space and time. Cautioning the parents on advocating a particular kind of behavior while exhibiting something else, she said that parents were the primary role models for the children whom they naturally imitate and follow.
She also strongly advised the parents to not allow the children to watch television. She dwelt on the perils of watching serials or cartoons which she said was ridden with violence, immoral messages and objectionable content. Reiterating this, she said that television watching stunts the social and emotional development of children.
Ending on a thought provoking note she stated, “Have confidence in your children, show them that you believe in them and you will see that it works wonders"

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